Little and Often – Tuning In

P1110308

A cool, bright and sunny day, mostly spent at a Rugby tournament at Preston Grasshoppers.

P1110309

I was out early for a short walk, but not early enough to catch the clear skies with which the day began. Whilst I was drinking my kick-starting cup of tea, thin high cloud had appeared, spread and, particularly to the east, began to coalesce into a covering layer.

P1110310

P1110314

A Drone Fly?

P1110318

This photo, taken from Castlebarrow, clearly shows the ‘sandier’ beach we’ve enjoyed of late along the Silverdale shoreline.

One consequence of my insistence on a daily wander (or two) seems to be that I am tuning in to my surroundings and beginning to pick-up on things I might otherwise have missed. As I came down off Castlebarrow I picked out the tchoo-tchoo of a Marsh Tit and have several poor photos to prove it. Likewise the thin contact calls of Goldcrests – I watched three of them hopping about in the dense foliage of a Yew, failing miserably to get a clear photo of any of them.

Of course, I have many wildlife encounters which fail to produce a photograph. I didn’t manage, for example, to catch the Blackbird which I watched chasing a Magpie above The Lots, apparently pecking at the larger bird’s tail-feathers. Also, I’ve seen Roe Deer in the woods several times of late, but either they have been away too quickly for me, or it’s been too dark to bother trying to photograph them, or I haven’t had my camera with me. (Increasingly, I leave it behind if it’s late and the sky is very gloomy).

I was without a camera recently when, in Eaves Wood, I spotted a Tawny Owl perched on a nearby branch. In fact, at first I didn’t see it, but just noticed that something was awry, out of the ordinary, and that I ought to look again, more closely. The owl’s plumage was extremely effective camouflage against the tangle of branches in the gloomy wood and it took a moment for the shapes to resolve themselves in my brain into an owl, which, due to the steepness of the slope was perched at my eye-level and not five yards away. We stared at each other for a long moment, and then, without ever having made a sound, the owl turned first its head, then its shoulders and then dropped silently from the tree and winged effortlessly away. Magic.

Little and Often – Tuning In

Owl Be Seeing You…

…in all the old familiar places

After our trip to Holehird I managed to get out for an evening stroll. I started late, but this being June the sun was still shining. I started in Eaves Wood, which meant I lost the sunshine, although I could see that the top of the canopy was still brightly lit. Never the less, I enjoyed a stomp up to the Pepper Pot and when I got there I briefly saw the sun again before it slipped behind a cloud in the western sky. I decided to drop through the wood and down to Cove Road to extend my walk to take in the Cove and the Lots too.

 

When I reached the Cove the sun hadn’t set, but it was low in the sky…

I noticed that the whitebeam which grows on the cliff here is almost flowering – I must keep an eye on this to see how it looks when it is.

The walk had been accompanied predominantly by the sound of blackbirds, and not for the most part their wonderful singing but more often the aggressive pip-pip-pip noise which they make. On the clifftop path a softer pip-pip-pip had me searching in the trees above me. A woodpecker. Even though my camera was already turned on, all I managed to photograph was the branch where the woodpecker had just been. A little further along the path another soft sound, softer still in fact, had me scanning the treetops again. There are many dead trees in this small patch of woods and many of them are full of holes drilled by woodpeckers. In addition, many of the living trees have small neat round holes in them – it’s just near here that I saw the starlings feeding their young in just such a hole, probably a nesting hole abandoned by woodpeckers. I hoped that I might be hearing young woodpeckers. I was wrong…

A tawny owl was staring straight back at me. It was fairly dark by now (as you can see) but with a little tweaking…

Grainy pictures I know – I’m not even sure whether this owl is a rufus or a grey tawny owl – there are two colourings apparently, with the grey being more unusual.

The owl dropped off the branch and rolled noiselessly away. I waited awhile but it didn’t reappear. When I slowly continued – looking for starlings or woodpeckers nesting in trees – I heard the same rather plaintive calls which had first attracted my attention. I retraced my steps and, in a tree near to where I saw the owl, two black eyes returned my stare from a white ball of fluff:

A baby tawny owl! I watched for quite some time, hoping that the adult might return with some food. The youngster hopped about on the branch but didn’t move much. A couple of crows seemed quite interested and kept returning to an adjacent tree, but no sign of the adult.

I had resolved not to wait for the sunset, but had watched the owl chick for so long…

Owl Be Seeing You…